The following is a response by Bronx resident Killian Jordan to John Rozankowski, PhD’s piece against the proposed bag tax.
I’ve got a big dog, and I always clean up after him. If I forget to bring a bag with me when I walk him, it’s not a problem: a dozen small black plastic bags will blow by us in the course of a ten-minute walk, and I can always grab one of those. And several million of them will end up in the ocean EVERY DAY.
That’s one reason why I approve the proposed tax (or ten-cent charge) on single-use plastic bags. Let’s face it: nobody has to pay that tax, when bags are so little, and so easily crumpled into something tiny and unobtrusive.
The ladies who read this will know that it’s no strain to carry a reusable bag or two; many of us already do that. (We adapted to having an endless supply of disposable bags in supermarkets, bodegas, and other stores. No doubt we’d adapt pretty quickly to not having them, too.) And the men who just haven’t formed the habit yet will find that it grows on you easily.
The arguments against the tax seem silly to me, and shallow, and frankly self-indulgent. The bags are ugly, fluttering in trees, blowing up and down streets, clogging storm drains. They are serious pollutants, in addition to doing great damage in the oceans. They increase the cost of citywide sanitation efforts. They are manufactured from nonrenewable resources. It seems silly to defend their use just because it might be hard to remember to bring one (or several, if that’s what you’ll need) the first few times you go to the store.
It’s also true that the multiply reused bags might not be very hygienic, but that problem goes away if you wash them occasionally. No big deal.
Climate change is real, and is threatening many aspects of life. At each step, with each new choice, it’s likely that we’ll have to make decisions weighing our entitlements and convenience against a healthier, safer, better life for our children and grandchildren. I’d like to see us all approach these problems with heart, and an eye to the future.
But I also think that we must involve communities in this decision, and if many people agree that the bags should be reduced in number, I do believe that a good public relations and information campaign would smooth the path to our new way of handling bags.
All we have to do is keep calm, and carry bags. Not so much, really.
Killian Jordan is an editorial consultant who has lived in the Bronx for the past seven years. Jordan is a member of the Board of Bronx Council for Environmental Quality and CB 4’s Parks and Recreation Committee.
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